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The Shift to Online Buying

To state the obvious, the internet has dramatically changed the way we shop. During the last two years I’ve made far more online than in-person purchases, to the detriment of smaller retail stores like ours. For a good number of months during the pandemic that was really the only viable option as brick-and-mortar stores were closed or restricting access and people were reticent to leave home and interact with others whose health status they didn’t know or trust.

Industry experts are reporting that many more people each year are using the internet to purchase instruments and other music-related tools. Some manufacturers are even abandoning the retail channel entirely and selling directly to consumers. Companies like Sweetwater, Musician’s Friend and Amazon are capturing ever increasing proportions of the instrument buying public.

So why look for your next guitar, mandolin or banjo at a local store when it is so convenient to just order it online? Since I’ve done both over the years I can testify that the in-person experience far outweighs the convenience of online shopping.

Buying an instrument is a sensory experience. How the guitar looks, feels in your hand and sounds are all integral parts of the buying experience. Most importantly no two instruments, even of the same model, are exactly the same. The pattern of the grain in woods, the tone profile of a carved instrument top – these are unique to each plank of wood removed from a tree as well as the builder. And what better way is there to compare a Collings to a Martin or a Taylor than to play all three in the same environment?

For those who have no or difficult access to a local retailer, buying online is a blessing and we are happy to serve that customer from a distance. Otherwise, we encourage you to shop locally for your next instrument. – Saul Rosenthal, Co-Owner, Denver Folklore Center